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Morning Report: Khabib Nurmagomedov cautions UFC, Bellator: ‘If they don’t treat good fighters, Eagle FC is here’

Khabib Nurmagomedov Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Thus far, Khabib Nurmagomedov has tried to play nice in recruiting talent to his Eagle FC fight promotion, but that doesn’t mean he plans to do so forever, especially if other organizations don’t treat their own fighters well.

On Friday night, Nurmagomedov’s fight promotion makes its U.S. debut with Eagle FC 44. The card is headlined by a heavyweight bout between Tyrone Spong and Sergei Kharitonov and populated heavily with former UFC and Bellator fighters, including Rashad Evans, Ray Borg, John Howard, and others. But though many of the recognizable names on the card are on the backend of their careers, Nurmagomedov says that won’t always be the case. In fact, the former UFC lightweight champion warned the UFC and Bellator to mind their Ps and Qs with their fighters, or “The Eagle” might just swoop down and take some of them.

“Big organizations like UFC, Bellator, they have to be careful with their fighters because Eagle FC is here,” Nurmagomedov said in press conference (video h/t MMAJunkie). “Of course, we’re trying to sign good athletes, great athletes with good names. (At the) same time, we’re working with the young generation too. We have two goals. I just want to say be careful. If they don’t treat good fighters, Eagle FC is here.”

The issue of the way the UFC treats its fighters has been a hot button topic in recent years but recently came to a boil again in the wake of UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou’s successful title defense at UFC 270 and the quagmire of promotional posturing that has ensued in the aftermath. But Nurmagomedov isn’t simply talking about treating fighters with respect, he’s talking about actually listening to what they want. Case in point, over the past several years, fans and fighters have been clamoring for a 165-pound weight class, and Eagle FC is delivering just that because, he says, that’s what the fighters want.

“I understand this game (from the) inside,” Nurmagomedov said. “I was professional fighter last 12 years and I hear from a lot of fighters that they really want weight classes like 155, 65, 75, and 85. When I opened this Eagle FC, I was like, why can’t I do this? Let’s build some new history.”

That history begins tonight at the FLXcast Arena in Miami, Fla.


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VIDEO STEW

Between the Links.

Best finishes from Bellator 273 fighters.

Khabib, Usman, Cejudo, and Sonnen discussing Eagle FC.

UFC 270 Fight Motion.

Israel Adesanya’s championship reign.

Adesanya’s fight camp.

MixedMollyWhoppery on Khamzat and McGregor.


LISTEN UP

We Got Next. Interviews with Vanessa Demopoulos, Victor Henry, and Pat Downey.


SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Paddy Pimblett (17-3) vs. Rodrigo Vargas (12-4); UFC London, Mar. 19.

Uriah Hall (17-10) vs. Andre Muniz (22-4); UFC Fight Night, Apr. 16.

Tanner Boser (20-8-1) vs. Rodrigo Nascimento (8-1, 1 NC); UFC Fight Night, Apr. 23.


FINAL THOUGHTS

Thanks for reading and see y’all next week.


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